Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Formula one

Today's Telegraph reports that Gordon Brown has asked the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, to review the Barnett formula, which as any political anorak will tell you decides much public spending in Wales and Scotland.

The Telegraph say No 10 told them that the review - denied by Downing Street - would "inform the debate".

It would certainly offer a chance for people in Wales to influence the debate, although the greatest pressure to review the formula comes not from Scotland or Wales.

There are a couple of clues in the Telegraph headline - "Questions over £1,500 tax subsidy for Scots" and this sentence: "The Prime Minister wants the policy re-examined in an attempt to head off mounting English resentment over the millions of pounds of public money sent to Scotland every year."

Be careful what you wish for?

Downing Street's official response may dampen down the excitement throbbing throughout the land when the formula is discussed: "It is not the case that the Prime Minister has ordered a review of the Barnett Formula. The Scottish Parliament has recently approved a review process aimed at strengthening devolution. As the Government announced to Parliament in January the Chancellor will lay before Parliament a factual paper on the funding mechanisms for the devolved administrations. There are no current plans to change the Barnett Formula."

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